July 24, 2020 4.30 pm This story is over 40 months old

Councils’ chief exec sorry over “sexist” posts

Former councillor said it “showed a total lack of respect for women”

The newly-shared chief executive of Boston Borough Council and East Lindsey District Council has apologised following complaints over “enormously sexist and misogynistic” posts he shared on social media.

East Lindsey’s chief executive Rob Barlow took over from Boston’s former chief executive Phil Drury under a new alliance hoped to save millions.

However, former Boston Borough Councillor Helen Staples complained to the leaders of both authorities after seeing posts from 2014 shared on Mr Barlow’s Facebook page which she said: “showed a total lack of respect for women”.

The posts included the lines “The art of smiling and nodding when all you want to do is slap that b**ch in the face” and “a wife is for life, not just for Christmas, think before you propose this year”.

One of the posts Chief Executive Rob Barlow shared on Facebook.

In a complaint to the leaders of the councils she said: “Both authorities employ a lot of female staff, to me this almost creates a safeguarding issue.

“The role of Chief Executive is varied and one of the roles is representing or will be both authorities on many occasions including Royal Visits and Church Services where female clergy are present.

“The deed is done he has been appointed, but having read those quotes to several of my female friends they were extremely uncomfortable, and like me grossly offended.”

One of the posts Chief Executive Rob Barlow shared on Facebook.

Mrs Staples has since withdrawn her complaint, saying she was satisfied the posts were no longer on Facebook.

However, current Councillor Anne Dorrian also plans to file a formal complaint calling for a “full independent investigation” and for Mr Barlow to “be suspended with immediate effect”.

“They’re enormously sexist, misogynistic and damaging to women,” she said of the comments.

“I was offended to my very core. These dreadful sentiments have been there for all to see for over five years, during which time, the entire world has had an awakening as a result of the “Me Too” movement.

“What does that say about him, that he chose to leave those demeaning comments on such a public platform and ignore what was going on around him?

“Mr Barlow holds the most senior position in our council and has power and control over the working lives of hundreds of women – some of whom will have experienced severe trauma – what on earth are they to think about how he perceives them?”

One of the posts Chief Executive Rob Barlow shared on Facebook.

It is understood other councillors on both authorities are also looking to request action.

Mr Barlow has apologised for the posts and it is understood his Facebook page has now been removed or made private.

He said: “I’d like to apologise for any offence caused in me sharing these existing Facebook posts on my personal wall. The posts were not generated by me and do not reflect my personal views.”

One of the posts Chief Executive Rob Barlow shared on Facebook.

In a statement, the leaders of the councils, Councillors Paul Skinner and Craig Leyland, said: “Rob has apologised for any offence caused and the posts shared do not reflect his views.

“The reality is that Rob is an excellent chief executive and he has our total confidence to drive our councils forward.”